The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, says ensuring easy access to telecom services by the public, especially people living with disabilities and the elderly remains a core value for the commission.

Prof Umar who disclosed this during the telecom consumer parliament organized by the commission in Lagos called for the development of technological features that can aid easy access to telecommunications services for people living with disabilities and the elderly.

Speaking on the theme ‘consumer protection of persons living with disability and the elderly’, Danbatta said there was a need to prioritize providing solutions for all persons with or without disabilities.

“Technology has a mission to carve out a place for everyone, without exception. Disability-related advancements in science and technology have made it feasible for impaired individuals to live as independently as possible,” Danbatta said.

“Current technologies include technical improvements specifically designed for communities whose lives are shaped by their experiences with disabilities and accessibility.

“Researchers are pioneering assistive and adaptive innovations which reflect the preached culture of acceptance and bridge the divide between the abled and disabled communities.

*Accessibility for persons living with disabilities in the communications sector concerns the design and provision of communications products and services with a specific focus on ensuring that they can be used by people who urge their usage.

“If everyone is to have equal opportunities to participate in social and economic life in today’s information society, then the complete range of ICTs must be e-accessible.”

Danbatta also urged telecom operators to provide innovative initiatives that would support underserved individuals.

He said the commission, as empowered by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, has the responsibility of ensuring that the needs of disabled and elderly persons are taken into consideration in the provision of communications services.

In recognition of the requirements of the NCA regarding this group of people and in line with the NCC’s consumer-centric approach to regulation, the commission has taken a number of telecom service provisioning initiatives toward the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and the elderly in the communications sector,” the vice-chairman.

“Therefore, incorporate principles into the individual code of practice for providing services to PWDs and the elderly. Develop appropriate policy frameworks to deal with the issue of accessibility for persons with disabilities in the telecom sector.”

On his part, Dare Dairo, general manager of the Lagos state office for disability affairs (LASPODA), lauded the effort of the NCC in creating room for people with special needs.

Speaking on inclusion, Dairo urged the incoming administration to consider providing leadership provisions for people with disabilities in order to create a sense of belonging.

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